I was following online the last Blizzcon because there were rumors about stuff I was very interested about. It was all a flop, sadly.
I left World of Warcraft shortly after Cataclysm, and after being very excited about it, because my idea of an ideal virtual world is one that doesn’t fall into obsolescence but keeps getting updated and improved. Cataclysm was supposed to be just that: an overhaul of old content to make the whole package more seamless and up to date.
The result, though? Exactly the opposite. They made all content obsolete systemically. As I’ve written in the past, they completely broke the progression. They sped up the leveling in order to make players reach max level faster and enjoy the bleeding edge content, but in the process they utterly destroyed any sense of quest flow. You cannot even follow the shortest quest chain in a zone without outleveling it. You run a dungeon once, and you’ve already outleveled whole zones outside.
For someone who’s chasing the treadmill power creep and wants to just collect better loot, it’s all ideal. But for someone like me who’s in no rush to reach the top and just wants to enjoy and explore ALL the content at my own pace, reading all the little stories that the zones have been written around, then this new skin of the game is completely unplayable. Unless you accept to remove from the experience all loot and all challenge and doing just grey quests all the time. But I don’t. I want an experience that is well balanced, otherwise it’s simply not worth it.
The recent rumor was about a feature that I think was already implemented for the content of the latest expansion, and it’s basically the only way to salvage the experience I want without redoing the whole game: content that dynamically rescales to your level.
It’s a feature now common to most MMORPGs and even single player games use it. I’m actually contrary to it, conceptually (it’s much better to remove levels completely and design a game around a flatter skill system), but it’s the only practical way to save WoW, at least for me.
Just scale the content (quests, monsters, dungeons, possibly rewards) to a challenging default (or scale the character to the content), and I’d jump right in.
A great thing that Blizzard is doing with WoW is that you get every expansion for free by just waiting a couple of years after its release. So I could play all the content I missed in the meantime. A boatload of content. I’d love to just do that and pay Blizzard the monthly subscription. But I can’t because the progress is broken and all that content has been pushed to the side and forgotten.
And what we get? Vanilla WoW? Did players really ask for this? I really don’t understand what’s interesting about it. The content was objectively lower quality, and fond memories are probably based on a more complex overall situation that doesn’t simply depend on rolling back the game.
WoW phase one was great and praised everywhere because it removed the grind of old school shitty MMORPGs, like Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot, where you’d sit in the same spot for hours, grinding a spawn point. WoW replaced that awful boring grind with actual questing, so that you were always on the move, visiting and exploring and enjoying the game world fully. Making it an interesting place. Reading, if you wanted, the stories in there.
Then WoW phase two came and put the grind right back: just a race to level cap and farming the same dungeon or raid over and over and over and over. Waiting for the next exp pack for years only to burn right through the content in the matter of a weekend, and go back at farming dungeons yet again.
If you like doing that it’s all good. WoW is big enough to accommodate for different kinds of players. But it’s 2017, and I’m still waiting for something that most other games with far less resources have gotten right…
And I’ve now read they announced level scaling shortly after. But my point stands, design wise.
I also don’t think their proposed solution isn’t going to fix my problem. Instead of full level scaling they are only doing a partial zone scaling, and even modifying expansions to overlap with each other.
The core problem is still that gaining experience is way, WAY too fast compared to the quest and zone flow. And just scaling the single zone to a level range won’t fix absolutely anything about the core problem itself: you could stay in a zone a little longer, but whole zones would still fall behind and into obsolescence. You would have a choice about doing a quest chain or running a dungeon once, but properly enjoying the content at a leisure pace would still be impossible.
If it was me I’d create optionally a special custom type of character where the level curve is super slow and tuned specifically around the content, flag them in some special way so players feel somewhat rewarded to create and play these “masochistic” types, and that’s it.
It could be implemented in a day. It’s just a redesigned xp curve. Or you could just apply to every level range the original value that it had for every time a new piece of content dropped. That would be already okay.
level 1-60: apply the vanilla xp curve
level 60-70: apply The Burning Crusade xp curve
level 70-80: apply Wrath of the Lich King xp curve
level 80-85: apply Cataclysm xp curve
level 85-90: apply Pandaria xp curve
level 90-100: apply Draenor xp curve
Me happy, here’s my monthly subscription.